Sunday’s World Superbike action at the Mandalika International Street Circuit may have brought two red-flagged races but this didn’t deter Team HRC, which was able to achieve its first podium of the 2023 season after Xavi Vierge ran an incredibly courageous race 2 to finish third!
The Superpole race got underway on time and in dry conditions. Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona moved straight into eighth and tenth, but the race was red-flagged after a lap one incident left oil on the track. With the race restarted shortly afterwards and reduced to just eight laps, Vierge soon progressed to sixth position, his strong pace allowing him to fight with the frontrunners. In the final lap Xavi held firm and finished this frantic sprint race in sixth place. Lecuona unfortunately wasn’t able to be as incisive as he’d been when the race began for the first time, placing fourteenth through the opening laps. Slipping back a little further as the race went on, Iker crossed the line sixteenth.
The final race began on dry asphalt but under cloudy skies. Lecuona worked hard over the opening stages of the race to progress from fifteenth to twelfth place. Vierge again got away well and was lying sixth early on, soon getting into a very strong rhythm that saw him move up into third by lap six. Part of a tight group of about six riders, the Spaniard was going great guns when the race was brought to a halt on lap seven after a crash involving two riders. The race was soon restarted, with riders lining up in the positions they had occupied prior to the interruption, so from third and ninth in the case of Vierge and Lecuona. Fourth and ninth by the end of lap one, the Team HRC duo did well to hold their positions considering the battles going on all around them. Despite lying a little further back, Lecuona’s lap times mirrored those of the frontrunners. Moving into eighth on lap nine, Iker battled Gardner in the latter stages of the race before concluding ninth. Picking up pace through the central stages of the race, Xavi was able to stick within half a second of Razgatlioglu, ahead in third, until the final stages of the race. Vierge’s determination paid off on the very last lap, when a mistake for another rider gave the Honda rider the opportunity to finish top three. Xavi crossed the line third to secure his first podium of the season, as well as his first aboard the CBR1000RR-R!
Team HRC currently places seventh in the standings with Vierge (43 points) and ninth with Lecuona (33 points). The factory squad will now continue its work back at base in preparation for the first of the European rounds, scheduled to take place at the Assen TT Circuit in The Netherlands over the weekend of 21-23 April.
“I want to thank the team for giving me an amazing bike that allowed me to be competitive. You can’t believe how happy I am, as we’ve been working so hard since last year but have somehow never quite been able to reach the podium. The start of the season has been very difficult, but the team has supported me so well and, here in Indonesia, they provided me with a bike that allowed me to find good feeling and speed. We continued to make progress over the weekend and now here we are. It wasn’t an easy day though, with two races and two red flags. But we managed to move up from thirteenth to sixth this morning so that I could start from the second row in race 2. Then this afternoon we were in third place with good pace and speed when they stopped the race. The team once again supported me and I had faith, giving it everything until the last laps. It’s true that Rinaldi ran wide, but we also were on the limit with our tyres and didn’t make a mistake. This podium is our reward. We’re improving race by race and will now do our best to continue on this path during the next rounds.”
“It has not been an easy day and it rounds out what has been a very challenging weekend, but I want to first thank my team because they worked hard to repair the bike after three crashes, and in a very short space of time. We had ups and downs during every session and in the end, we just weren’t able to put it all together. My congratulations go to the entire team and my team-mate Xavi on scoring his first Superbike podium. Hopefully there will be more to come, for both of us, but for today congratulations to Xavi - this is his day.”